Plastic mulch is extruded from clear polyethylene resin into sheets of film of varying widths and lengths. In its natural state, plastic is clear, so carbon black is added to make it black. Generally, the thickness is 1.0 to 1.1 mil (1 mil = 1/1000 inch) although thinner materials are available in high density poyethylene. Because of the inherent physical properties of black plastic mulch, it modifies the micro-climate around plants, enhancing growth, yield, and quality of horticultural crops. Over many years of experimentation and use since the late 1950's black plastic has proved to be a boost to agricultural productivity.
Black Plastic Mulch 1.0 mil contributes to earlier and higher yields, weed control, increased soil temperature, reduced soil moisture evaporation, and nutrient leaching.
Crops Suited for Black Plastic Mulch:
- Vegetables: warm season and cool season crops that are transplanted and for direct seeded crops that are seeded in hills such as cucumbers
- Small Fruits: strawberries in annual hill system
Advantages of using Black Mulch:
- Earlier and higher yields even though there will be variations from year to year.
- Weed control. Because the mulch is black, light is not transmitted through the plastic and therefore weeds will not grow under the material.
- Soil temperature increases 3-5 degrees F under the mulch at soil depths of 2 to 6 inches. This is the area of greatest root growth early in the season. Warm roots grow faster and accelerate plant growth.
- Evaporation of soil moisture is reduced. Plastic mulch is impervious to water. Any evaporation of soil moisture occurs only through the planting holes.
- Nutrient leaching is reduced during excessive rainy periods.
- Easy to install and durable. Plastic mulch is flexible and stretchable. It will conform to both flat and raised beds. Strong enough for either double cropping in the same season or possibly over two seasons. Easy field removal.
Mulch 1.0 mil Installation Tips:
- Prepare soil well. It should be smooth and pliable
- Do not lay paper on dry soil. Beds should be firm.
- To prevent tearing, adjust wheels on plastic laying machine so that they do not stretch the paper.
- Plastic should be in close contact with the soil for maximum heat transfer into the soil.
- Be sure the edges of the plastic are well secured with soil.
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